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Chris Sale Is Not A Mortal Man, As The Red Sox Complete The Four-Game Sweep Of The Orioles To Move To 50 Games Over .500

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles

Chris Sale is not a mortal man. He’s just not. On Sunday, Sale returned from the disabled list after missing two starts and dominated. Again. Whether you want to believe he was actually hurt or you want to believe that it was built-in rest to keep him fresh for the second half, the main takeaway here is that he came back and did not miss a beat. He was hitting 99 MPH on the gun and threw five shutout innings, allowed just one hit and struck out 12 batters on 68 pitches.

How do you wanna break this down? Let’s cast a wide net and then work our way in. On the whole season, Sale’s ERA is now under two. Sale’s 1.97 ERA is the lowest in the American League, second to Jacob deGrom (1.77) for the major league lead. Even after missing two starts, Sale’s 12-strikeout performance against Baltimore put him right back at the top of the major league lead in strikeouts with 219. Over his last 10 starts, he has a 0.69 ERA, a 0.69 WHIP, and 109 strikeouts in 65 innings. He hasn’t allowed a home run in any of those ten starts.

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Over Sale’s last seven starts, he has a 0.20 ERA, a 0.64 WHIP, and 79 strikeouts in 44 innings. That’s the lowest ERA over any seven-start stretch in Red Sox history since ERA became a statistic in 1913. And finally, over Sale’s last four starts, he hasn’t allowed an earned run. Zero. He has a 0.00 ERA over his last four starts with 43 strikeouts in 23 innings, and is currently riding a 28-inning scoreless streak dating back to his July 6 start. He’s the best pitcher in baseball. It’s not a debate.

Steve Pearce got the scoring started three batters into the game with his sixth home run since joining the Red Sox. Since coming to Boston on June 29, Pearce is hitting .314 with a 1.073 OPS. With a minimum of 80 plate appearances, Pearce’s 1.073 OPS ranks seventh in the majors since the trade. JD Martinez (1.132 OPS, 2nd) and Mookie Betts (1.112 OPS, 4th) are ahead of him in that ranking. Another run came in on a throwing error in the fourth after Martinez doubled, his first of two doubles on the day. That marks 33 doubles on the year for Martinez to go along with his major league leading 37 homers.

Gotta show some love to Ryan Brasier. Guy came from out of nowhere, was pitching in Japan last year after being released by the A’s at the end of the 2016 season, and now here he is getting big outs for the best team in baseball. Big, as in the situation. Not sure you can get a big out against the Orioles in 2018.

In a 2-0 game in the bottom of the sixth, Brasier entered a bases loaded situation that was left behind by Tyler Thornburg and battled Trey Mancini, who was 6-for-19 in the series with a double and a homer, for nine pitches before whiffing him on a 3-2 slider. Big balls stuff. Brasier now has a 1.13 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP with 15 strikeouts in 16 innings for the Red Sox this year. He’s in my trust tree…for now.

The Red Sox added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning, but the second run felt cheap. Jackie Bradley Jr. drove in Eduardo Nunez to make it 3-1, but then Mookie shot a base hit out to right-center that Adam Jones kind of just half-assed it after. It went by him, and he jogged after it, bringing Bradley around from first. Yeah, it was hit hard, but Jones could’ve slid and blocked the ball from going by him, or just ran harder. I guess it’s hard to blame these Orioles players for giving up, but had a rookie done what Jones did on that play, I would’ve expected a guy like Jones to be the first player in his face when he got back in the dugout. Is it weird that I was disappointed by that?

With the win, the Red Sox completed their four-game sweep of the Orioles and moved to 50 games above .500 on the year at 85-35. It’s the first time that the Red Sox have been 50 games above .500 since 1946, a year in which they went to a seventh game of the World Series. It’s sick stuff. They’re 10-1 in the month of August, and never mind holding a 9.5 game lead within their own division — they own a 9.5 game lead on the rest of Major League Baseball. It’s Alex Cora’s league, and everyone else is just playing in it.

The Red Sox are off on Monday, and then they head to Philly for a two-game series against the first-place Phillies. The Red Sox got the two big guns in Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola in their two-game series at Fenway Park against the Phils last month. This time, it’ll be Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez, who are both still good pitchers, but not their one-two guys. On Tuesday, it’s Rick Porcello versus Pivetta.

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Porcello has been big time hit or miss for the last month or so. He’s either been lights out or a complete disaster. Two starts ago was his complete game, 86-pitch one-hitter against the Yankees, and then he followed that up by getting shelled by the Blue Jays, although Toronto seems to be the only team to have Porcello’s number this year. Pivetta has been in a similar boat. Over his last two starts, he’s allowed two earned runs in 12 innings, but he allowed nine earned runs in 11.1 innings in the two starts prior to that.

Final score: Red Sox 4, Orioles 1

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